Social Security Eligibility: What It Takes to Receive Max Monthly $3,895

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For many Americans, social security benefits are a major source of income after retirement. In 2021, an average of 65 million Americans will receive monthly social security benefit checks totaling over $1 trillion paid during the year, according to the Social Security Administration.

See: How Does Social Security Get Calculated?
Find: 5 Social Security Benefits You Can Claim Online

While the average retiree receives $1,557 per month in benefits, the maximum you can receive per month is $3,895, as GOBankingRates previously reported. However, how much you receive depends on numerous factors.

Number of Working Years

How long have you worked? The Social Security Administration calculates your benefit amount by taking an average of your earned wages over the 35 highest-earning years of your career — adjusting for inflation over the years.

Think means you’ll need to have worked at least 35 years during your life, GOBankingRates reported, and times you weren’t working will result in a lower average and less money.

Retire Comfortably

Lifetime Earnings

To be eligible for maximum benefits, you must have consistently had earnings that have equaled or exceeded the SSA’s maximum taxable earnings limit throughout your career. For 2021, the maximum limit is $142,800 per year, although the amount changes yearly to account for cost-of-living adjustments.

Even if you don’t consistently earn the maximum limit,  noted that you can still boost your benefit amount by increasing your income.

When You Plan to File for Benefits

Another important factor is when you plan to file for benefits. While you can file for social security benefits as early as age 62, waiting longer can earn you more money. If you wait until the age of 70, you are more likely to receive more benefits. You could potentially collect hundreds of dollars more per month if you wait until at least 70.

See: 5 Social Security Benefits You Can Claim Online
Find: Next Year’s Social Security Checks Could Get Biggest COLA Bump in 13 Years

However, even if you were on track for maximum benefits eligibility, by filing at the age of 62, you would only receive $2,324 per month. Waiting those 8 years makes a big difference.

About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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